If you are here, you probably know what HSK stands for, but it’s always possible that you have randomly bump into this page – if this is the case, WELCOME!
HSK is the standardized Chinese language exam or “Chinese Proficiency Test” – like the IELTS or the TEFL for English. But much cheaper! HSK (or Cheesecake if you don’t pronounce it properly) stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi – 汉语水平考试.
Unlike the IELTS and other language certifications, the HSK is not a complete exam: it tests just your reading, writing and listening level. For the speaking part there’s another exam, called the HSKK – Hanyu Shuiping Kouyu Kaoshi – 汉语水平口语考试. The Chinese oral exam is as cheap as the HSK, so there’s no need to worry about having to pay for two exams.
The HSK is divided in 6 levels, the HSK 1 is the easiest, while the HSK 6 is native speaker’s level. These levels are legally compared to the Common Framework of Reference for Languages:
HSK 1 = A1
HSK 2 = A2
HSK 3 = B1 etc…
However, the comparison is not really accurate, and the actual level is lower than the one estimated by the Hanban.
There is no need to buy books or materials to get prepared for the HSK or the HSKK: you will be able to find plenty of useful websites online, with words, grammar and mock tests.
I personally recommend to take as many mock tests as you can before the exam: this will help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions, timing and it’s the best way to practice.
http://centroitalocineseferrara.altervista.org/it/download/materiale-di-studio-per-esami-hsk.html : HSK 1-2-3-4-5-6, characters list, mock test from 01 to 03
http://www.chinaeducenter.com/en/hsk/hskmaterials.php : with actual past papers from 2013 (without audio file), and HSK test questions from previous HSK test
http://www.confuciusinstitute.manchester.ac.uk/hsk/hsk-learning-resources/past-papers-hsk-1/ : all HSK, mock test from H11329 to H11334